The Unhealthy Public / Rebeca Monzo

“19th of April” Policlinic in Havana

Rebeca Monzo, 20 January 2017 — Our media are filled with praise for the Cuban public health system. This is a subject that foreigners who visit our country pay a lot of attention to, due to the government propaganda and official statistics provided to international organizations, which tourists also show a lot of interest in.

There are two or three hospitals and policlinics shown off to visitors, which are “duly prepared.” Even so, and I know from experience, they are not in the optimal conditions that they should be.

I felt “fortunate,” when for the first time in all those years, I had to go to one of these “model” centers to receive physiotherapy treatment, due to two tremendous falls I took, thanks to the broken streets and sidewalks and in a terrible state, which proliferate in our city.

“Defective bathroom, don’t use.”

The staff in attendance in this department is good, friendly and prepared, but the conditions for delivering the best treatment don’t really exist. Numerous people come to this department, having suffered some kind of accident or simply suffering from the passage of years.

From the waiting room to the physiotherapy department there is a hallway through which all the patients have to pass, most of them old people with crutches or canes, and they must avoid a perennial puddle of water, where even the policlinic’s pets come to drink. Also, of the two bathrooms for the waiting room, only one is working, the ladies, which the gentlemen also have to use.

The different cubicles where physiotherapy happens are adorned with ragged and dirty curtains, some of them half off. Also, the furniture in the rooms is mostly covered in dust. It seems there are no cleaners or, simply, they are paid so little they don’t do a good job.

A cat drinking from a puddle in the hallway of the clinic

And if that wasn’t enough, the biological wastes are deposited directly into trash collectors, without being put in closed trash bags or incinerated as they should be.

Imagine, if this is the policlinic they show foreigners (only the best areas), you can imagine what the rest of the ones we ordinary citizens have to use are like. And don’t even talk about the hospitals, they’re worse.